Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mastication, Mastication, Mastication

Ever wondered what New Labour ministers do when not accepting the holy writ of the free market, schmoozing with millionaires at Labour Party fundraising bashes & wearing garlic around their necks just in case someone mentions the word, "socialism"?
They take their families to McDonald's. At least Tom Harris does. Tom, you may recall, is the profound thinker who told us all to stop being so bloody miserable & gloated about his Kinnockite allegiance during the 80s when noting Terry Fields' death.
Tom, bless him, waxes lyrical on his blog about the culinary delights which await the McDonald's customer (http://tomcharris.wordpress.com/2008/07/13/in-praise-of-mcdonalds/ ).
However, Tom doesn't stop there; he suddenly becomes class conscious, but in reverse, if you get my drift. Consider this well thought-out, cogent case for the fast food giant:
"So why do so many people hate McDonald's? As far as I can see, they sell extremely tasty food at reasonable prices, they provide an activity and a venue that is decidedly family-friendly. More importantly, they provide employment for many people, particularly the young. And if you can get past the 'McJob' snobbery that's prevalent today, it might be recognised that McDonald's, in many communities, are an important employer. More to the point, if McDonald's were not there, those communities would be worse off."
Let's leave aside the patronising tone which the extract betrays about young workers & communities denuded of local manufacturing work over the last 30 years. Let's also draw a veil over the description of McDonald's food as "tasty" (I do worry for your taste buds, Tom).
Instead, let's refer to the McLibel trial in the mid 90s. Helen Steel & Dave Morris, two London Greenpeace activists, were sued for libel by McDonald's after distributing leaflets outside their stores in central London. In contrast to the plaintiff's array of experienced (& expensive) barristers, Steel & Morris conducted their own case. I'll quote the excellent website, http://www.mcspotlight.org/case/ on the outcome of the case:
"The verdict was devastating for McDonald's. The judge ruled that they 'exploit children' with their advertising, produce 'misleading' advertising, are 'culpably responsible' for cruelty to animals, are 'antipathetic' to unionisation and pay their workers low wages. But Helen and Dave failed to prove all the points and so the judge ruled that they HAD libelled McDonald's and should pay 60,000 pounds damages. They refused and McDonald's knew better than to persue it. In March 1999 the Court of Appeal made further rulings that it was fair comment to say that McDonald's employees worldwide 'do badly in terms of pay and conditions', and that 'if one eats enough McDonald's food, one's diet may well become high in fat, etc., with the very real risk of heart disease'."
Hope your family enjoyed their meal, Tom.

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